The latest sad twist in the HMP Pentonville saga is two prisoners escaping on Sunday night. At present I am going on partial reports being tweeted by Simon Israel and BBC reporter Danny Shaw that the prisoners cut their way out using diamond tipped cutting equipment and scaled the wall, leaving mannequins in their beds to delay discovery.
In my view, diamond tipped equipment could mean something as simple as a diamond-impregnated file, easy to come by these days on Amazon and small enough to fly in on a drone. If you are slow and patient with such a file they aren’t even noisy.
I feel sorry for the Governor – there’s little doubt that he like all prison governors is fundamentally competent. But it’s unlikely he has been given enough resources by the MOJ/HMPS/NOMS to do his job properly. It’s at HQ that the blame lies – it’s not just a ha’poth of tar missing, it’s the deck and half the crew.
Last week Emily Thornberry MP wrote to the justice secretary calling for an investigation into the provision of a duty of care at the ‘Ville following the recent tragic death and our calls for a corporate manslaughter investigation. It can’t come soon enough – last week’s prison reform white paper was fine words distracting from today’s urgent problem, caused by drastic reductions in funding and staffing. Emily and Cllr Convery called for the prison to be closed.